“My dad, Lev Rubinstein, died today,” wrote Maria Rubinstein, his daughter, on her blog on the Live Journal website, an announcement echoed in Russian media. In one line, it announces, Sunday January 14, the death, at the age of 76, of the Russian poet, figure of Soviet dissidence and critic of the Kremlin.

The official Interfax agency and the opposition news site Meduza report that Lev Rubinstein was hit on January 8 by a motorist while crossing a street in the capital, then hospitalized at the Sklifosovsky Institute in a condition extremely serious, suffering from numerous fractures and head trauma.

In a statement, the Moscow Transport Department announced that the driver had failed to slow down before a pedestrian crossing and knocked down the poet, specifying that, according to preliminary data, the car owner had been involved in nineteen violations of the highway code during the last twelve months.

Born in 1947 in Moscow, a librarian by training, Lev Rubinstein was one of the figures of the Soviet underground literary scene of the 1970s and 1980s, a “new avant-garde” aiming to be inventive and insolent. He was considered one of the founders, in the 1970s, of the Moscow “conceptualist” movement, which derided the official doctrine of socialist realism and opposed it.

Attached to rhythm, Lev Rubinstein had created a separate genre, the “text-on-card”, relating to both poetry and theater: the poet read short sentences on stage, aloud, written on cards perforated.

The practice, inspired by his daily life as a librarian and reference to the sinister bureaucracy of the Soviet era, mixed performance, absurd comedy and improvisation. With the idea of ​​shaking off the numbness of Sovietism.

After the breakup of the USSR, his notoriety grew in Russia. He is published in renowned publishing houses and also works as a journalist. He is invited to international poetry festivals and his works are translated into many languages. In 1999, he won the Andrei Biély Prize, an independent literary award launched in 1978. In 2012, he received a Nos Prize, awarded by the Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation, which rewards a work of prose in Russian.

At the same time, the poet did not hide his opinions hostile to the Putin regime, denouncing political repression, human rights violations, and participating in opposition demonstrations. In March 2022, he and other Russian writers signed an open letter calling the Russian army’s large-scale attack on Ukraine a “criminal war” and lambasting the Kremlin’s “lies.”